I love the interplay between sweet and savory that fruit can add to salads. Here, fresh pears are poached in red wine to give them a gorgeous color and deeper flavor that’s delicious with the assertive blue cheese and toasty hazelnuts. This is definitely a company-worthy dish, although if you make the components ahead you can enjoy it even on a busy weeknight. Store any leftover vinaigrette in an airtight container in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks.
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup hazelnut oil (optional)
1/3 cup canola oil (or 2/3 cup if not using hazelnut oil)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups mesclun greens, washed and dried
2 Red-Wine Poached Pears (google how to make)
2 1/2 ounces Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue or other blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skins removed, and chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated and the dressing is thickened. Add the salt and pepper. (Alternately, you can use an immersion blender.)
In a large bowl, toss the mesclun with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the dressing and taste. Add more dressing, if needed. Divide the greens among four plates.
Halve and core the poached pears. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices and evenly distribute on the greens. They also look nice sliced but held together by the upper part of the pear (called “fanning”). Sprinkle with cheese and hazelnuts, drizzle with reduced syrup if desired and serve.